Nathan Eovaldi Walks Four, Allows Three Runs in Final Start of Season as Red Sox Fall to Orioles

After falling to the Texas Rangers 7-5 in their final road contest of the season on Thursday, the Red Sox opened up the final weekend of the 2019 campaign with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

Making his 12th and final start of the season for Boston was Nathan Eovaldi, who came into the weekend fresh off his first quality outing of 2019 in his last time out against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Working five full innings this time around, the right-hander surrendered another three runs, all of which were earned, on three hits and four walks to go along with three strikeouts on the night.

All three of those Orioles tallies came on one swing of the bat in the top half of the third, when with two outs and two runners on following a one-out double from Austin Hays and a one-out walk drawn by Trey Mancini in consecutive order, Eovaldi was just one pitch away from escaping a tight spot, but instead served up a hanging, 0-2, 81 MPH curveball to Renato Nunez, who crushed said pitch well over the Green Monster to get his side on the board first at 3-0.

Other than that one costly mistake though, Eovaldi settled in nicely enough, retiring six of the final eight Orioles he faced with the help of a 6-3 double play turned in the fifth, which would wind up being the Texas native’s last inning of work.

Finishing with a final pitch count of 90 (50 strikes), the 29-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball more than 41% of the time he was on the mound Friday, inducing three swings and misses and topping out at 99.6 MPH with the pitch while Juan Centeno was behind the plate.

Ultimately hit with his first losing decision of the year despite lowering his ERA down to 5.99, Eovaldi’s first full season in Boston is in the books.

The flame throwing righty finishes with a 2-1 record, a 5.99 ERA, a 1.58 WHIP, and a .276 batting average against over 23 total appearances (12 starts) and 67 2/3 innings pitched.

In relief of Eovaldi, Hector Velazquez entered the sixth with a three-run deficit to maintain, and he filled the bases with two outs before getting Jonathan Villar to pop out to Brock Holt in shallow center to get out of the jam.

From there, Colten Brewer walked one and fanned two in a scoreless seventh, Andrew Cashner walked two in an otherwise clean eighth, and Marcus Walden allowed the O’s to score their fourth run of the night on a leadoff walk of Hays and two-out RBI single off the bat of Nunez in the ninth.

On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against a familiar foe in Orioles right-hander Adrian Wojciechowski, someone they had only gotten two total runs off of over two seperate starts and 11 2/3 innings of work leading into Friday.

Unable to get anything going against Wojciechowski once again in this one, it was not until the last half of the ninth when the Boston bats finally got going.

There, with left-handed reliever Richard Bleier on the mound for Baltimore, Rafael Devers led things off with a scorching leadoff double, his 53rd of the year.

That set up Xander Bogaerts in a prime run-scoring spot, and he delivered with an RBI single right back up the middle to plate Devers from second and finally get his team on the board.

Bogaert’s 500th career run driven in did make it seem as though a late rally was about to get off the ground.

Any momentum that was built up quickly dissipated though, as Bogaerts was picked off at first for the first out of the ninth, Mitch Moreland whiffed on four pitches for the second, and Christian Vazquez grounded out to third for the last out, ending Friday’s contest with a final score of 4-1.

Some notes from this loss:

With their 77th loss of the season and 40th at Fenway Park, the Red Sox guarantee that they will finish with a losing record at Fenway.

Rafael Devers is three hits away from 200 on the season.

From Red Sox Notes:

From The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier:

From The Eagle-Tribune’s Chris Mason:

Friday was certainly an eventful day for the Red Sox. They capped it off with an uneventful loss to one of the worst teams in all of baseball.

Next up for the Red Sox, it’s the final Saturday game of the season, with right-hander Jhoulys Chacin getting the ball for Boston and rookie left-hander John Means doing the same for Baltimore.

Chacin has posted a 6.00 ERA and .831 OPS against in five total outings (four starts) and 12 total innings of work since joining the Sox at the beginning of the month.

His first start against the O’s should serve as one last final 2020 audition for the 31-year-old.

Means, meanwhile, looks to wrap up a solid rookie campaign on a positive note.

In terms of Game Score, the 2019 All-Star’s best start of 2019 came against the Red Sox back on May 6th, when Means tossed seven innings of one-run ball in an eventual winning effort at Camden Yards.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 1:05 PM EDT on NESN. Two games left on the year. Time to cherish what is left.

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Brock Holt Starting at Third Base, Juan Centeno Catching Jhoulys Chacin as Red Sox Look to Avoid Sweep Against Clay Buchholz, Blue Jays

The Red Sox have lost five straight games and are one more loss away from getting swept by the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. In order to prevent that from happening, they’ll have to get the best out of old friend and former Sox right-hander Clay Buccholz on Thursday night.

Since being traded from Boston to the Philadelphia Phillies in December of 2016, Buccholz has yet to pitch against the club he began his professional career with, but has made 26 total starts across three different organizations over three seasons, including eight for Toronto in 2019.

The 35-year-old owns a 5.31 ERA and .283 batting average against in 42 1/3 innings pitched over that span, but has looked better since returning from the injured list due to shoulder inflammation on August 25th, allowing a total of eight runs (seven earned) on 13 hits and nine walks over his last three outings and 17 2/3 innings of work.

Against Buccholz, third baseman Rafael Devers will get the night off for the Red Sox, while Brock Holt slides into the two-hole to make his second start of the year at the hot corner. This will also be the first time this season that the 31-year-old will hit as high as second in Boston’s lineup.

Behind the plate, it will be Juan Centeno making his first start in a Red Sox uniform to catch Jhoulys Chacin.

Centeno entered Wednesday’s loss as a defensive replacement for Christian Vazquez in the middle of the sixth inning and popped out to third in his lone plate appearance in the eighth.

Signed as a minor league free agent by Boston last November, the Puerto Rico native was part of the first round of September call-ups at the beginning of the month. He has never caught Chacin before in his career.

Speaking of Chacin, the 31-year-old hurler will be making his second start for the Sox after impressing with two scoreless frames against the New York Yankees last Friday and tossing a scoreless frame of relief in the same series on Sunday.

Here is how the rest of the Red Sox will be lining up behind Chacin.

First pitch Thursday is scheduled for 7:07 PM EDT on NESN.

 

Red Sox Activate David Price from Injured List, Add Six September Call-Ups in Slew of Roster Moves

Before closing out a three-game weekend series against the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday, the Red Sox announced that left-hander David Price had been activated off the 10-day injured list.

In addition to that, right-hander Jhoulys Chacin, catcher Juan Centeno, and outfielder Gorkys Hernandez were selected to the major league roster from Triple-A Pawtucket, while right-hander Travis Lakins, right-hander Hector Velazquez, and right-hander Ryan Weber were recalled from Triple-A.

To make these moves possible, left-hander Chris Sale and right-hander Steven Wright were transferred from the 10-day to the 60-day injured list, while minor league first baseman Joey Curletta was outrighted off Boston’s 40-man roster. The club made the transactions official earlier Sunday.

Before Sunday, Sox manager Alex Cora said that the plan for September call-ups was to add a right-handed outfielder and a catcher for depth. They now have that in the form of Hernandez and Centeno.

Hernandez, 31, joined Boston on a minor-league deal back in December after spending the past three seasons with the San Francisco Giants.

In 123 games with Pawtucket this year, the Venezuela native slashed .219/.319/.377 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI.

Those numbers improved when Hernandez faced off against left-handed pitchers, as he slashed .305/.408/.533 to go along with seven homers and 16 RBI over 105 at-bats.

Hernandez will start in center field and bat out of the nine-hole for Boston on Sunday with lefty Andrew Heaney starting for Los Angeles.

Centeno, meanwhile, also joined the Red Sox on a minor-league pact this past November after spending the 2018 season within the Texas Rangers’ organization.

Over the course of 81 International League contests this year, the native of Puerto Rico posted an OPS of .671 while hitting four homers and driving in 40 runs in 301 plate appearances. He’ll likely slide in behind Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon on the catcher depth chart.

The move to add Chacin came on Saturday, when the two sides reached agreement on a minor-league deal less than a week after the veteran right-hander had been released by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Lakins, Velazquez, and Weber have all spent time with the Sox this season, combining for 46 appearances and 11 starts in the majors in 2019.

David Price was activated off the injured list a little more than three weeks after initially being shelved with a TFCC cyst in his left wrist.

The 34-year-old hurler received treatment for the cyst via a cortisone shot and is now ready for in-game action.

Through 21 starts this season, Price owns a 4.36 ERA and 3.65 FIP over 105 1/3 total innings pitched. The Red Sox are 9-12 in those games.

Price will be making his 22nd start and first since August 4th against the Angels on Sunday afternoon. Here is how the Red Sox will be lining up behind him.

First pitch is scheduled for 4:07 PM EDT on NESN.

#RedSox Catcher Sandy Leon Accepts Assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket

After clearing waivers and being outrighted from the Red Sox’ 40-man roster on Tuesday, catcher Sandy Leon accepted his assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday. The club made the official announcement earlier.

Leon, 30, will now report to the PawSox and look to provide Boston with depth at the Triple-A level, which is something I would have to assume the team is happy about.

Since he remained in the organization through Opening Day, the backstop’s $2.475 million salary for 2019 is now guaranteed and will count towards Boston’s luxury tax.

Well respected by the Red Sox pitching staff, the possibility remains that Leon could be dealt if he impresses in the minors and another club feels the need to acquire a backup-caliber catcher.

Leon will join the likes of 29-year-old ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who signed a minor-league pact with Boston last November, down in Pawtucket.

Together, the pair have racked up exactly 1460 big league plate appearances since 2012, so they should provide some solid depth behind Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart and be solid injury fill-ins if necessary.

#RedSox Catcher Christian Vazquez Considered ‘Someone Teams Could Make a Run at’ in Trade Talks

In his weekly column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo pointed out that teams looking for a backstop may have interest in the Red Sox’ Christian Vazquez now that JT Realmuto is off the board and a Philadelphia Phillie.

Teams Cafardo listed as potential Vazquez suitors were also teams that missed out on Realmuto,  including the Braves, Dodgers, Padres, and Reds.

Now, Vazquez and Realmuto aren’t exactly on the same level in terms of what they bring to the table both at and behind the plate, but Vazquez’s defensive prowess is no joke.

It’s been made pretty much abundantly clear that the Red Sox aren’t planning on carrying three catchers on their 25-man roster in 2019, and with Vazquez due to make $2.85 million, the most of any Boston catcher, this coming season, moving on makes sense, especially when you consider what Leon and Swihart can still provide.

Fresh off signing a three-year contract extension last spring training, the 28-year-old struggled immensely at the plate, slashing a career-worst .207/.257/.283 with three home runs and 16 RBI in just 80 games played in 2018. He also missed a significant amount of time with a fifth finger fracture in his right hand.

To add to the conversation, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Saturday that he feels comfortable with the minor league depth the club has at catcher with this inevitable trade coming, which starts with ex-Rangers backstop Juan Centeno, who Boston signed to a minor league deal last November.

“We’re good,” Cora said. “I had Juan in Houston in 2017. He was part of the playoff roster. So I’m comfortable.”

All three of Centeno, Cora, and Vazquez are natives of Puerto Rico for what it’s worth.

Although Vazquez’s future with the Red Sox is cloudy at this point in time, the same can certainly be said for Blake Swihart and Sandy Leon. The competition between the three of them should really be something to watch these next few weeks.

As for what Dave Dombrowski would want in return for one of the three backstops available via trade, I would venture to say it’s either going to be a middle innings reliever or back-end starter. The possibility that the Red Sox acquire prospects to improve their farm system, like Cafardo says above, is there as well.